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Sensors, Data And Learning Are The Future Of Real Estate

The Internet of Things has been promised for a long time. People have predicted household or office appliances would dynamically react to user tastes and preferences since the time Microsoft was the hottest thing in tech. Nearly two decades on, progress seems slow, if not stalled. What held back the revolution? Experts at Bisnow's Future of Real Estate event said a lack of standards was a key stumbling block. But they said progress will be made, even if it takes many years.


Allsteel’s David Madrid (right, with Alicia Lemler) began the conversation by imagining a future where real estate and facilities management are purely a question of harvesting and acting on data. In this world, room booking, HVAC activation and a host of other tedious processes will be automatic and make the user experience a pleasant one.

He offered his thoughts on why this hasn’t happened yet. It's a function of cost, David said. Sensors were much more expensive and data was painfully unstructured, making the smart in smart office all but impossible.

David ended his comments by asserting 100% social space was purely a fad. He rhetorically asked the audience what anyone can possibly get done in the presence of distraction. Instead the answer lies between the cubical and the open office in a more modular workspace with balance between total isolation and interaction.


UniKey provides the technology behind many of today’s leading digital lock and access companies. VP Lee Odess (above left, with moderator Jeff Brink) told the audience the Internet of Things needs definition. In access control, The Jetsons future isn’t quite here because there are no common standards.

Progress, however, has been made. Perhaps in the next few years, you will be able to communicate your tastes and preferences through your connected devices and the building will adjust accordingly. Hotels and other commercial buildings will lead the pack. Lee predicted it will be a year or two before you can leave your keys behind.


ESD senior associate James Gronek (left, with John Assunto) approaches design from the end-user perspective and new technologies have the potential to make life comfortable. He said many of the systems currently in the market have some “smart” technology embedded in them. The key is for different product makers to share data and ensure devices can talk to each other. Only then can the user experience match the promises.


Building Robotics president Lindsay Baker also believes in approaching the future from the user first rather than obsessing over the building. A future she envisions consists of a dynamic building that responds to a person’s needs. The challenge is appreciated by tech clients like Google, but others still scratch their heads, she said. Clean and reliable integration will make the task much easier in realizing the potential of the future of real estate.